In order to support businesses across the region during these highly challenging times, the Solent Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) has established a new Solent business support task force. The LEP is bringing together local authorities, business representative organisations (BROs) and other relevant bodies to work together to find ways to sustain business continuity as much as possible.

The Solent Task Force has been created to share best practice and intelligence, particularly related to business rates relief and administering the small grants programme making the process quick, easy and standardised across the Solent.

Solent LEP Board Director SJ Hunt, who will be chairing the inaugural meeting of the Solent Task Force via video on Tues 31 March said: “Despite businesses hearing from the Government about the help available to them, we wanted to ensure, at a local level, that everyone has access to the information which applies to them and that the process of acquiring that help is as straightforward and streamlined as possible.

“This is an unprecedented time, and it has never been more important for us to remember that we are together stronger. We look forward to working with key partners in order that we can jointly support our businesses to deliver a prosperous future for the Solent.”

Ross McNally, CEO of Hampshire Chamber of Commerce said: “Our business community is being challenged like never before and Hampshire Chamber recognises the absolute need for all parts of the business support structure to get resources to businesses as quickly and effectively as possible. The Solent Task Force can make a great contribution and a real difference.”

Portsmouth City Council Councillor Steve Pitt, Cabinet Member for Culture and City Development, said: “We strongly support this new Solent Task Force and the excellent work that can come out of us all working together in tandem. To date, the council has already launched a dedicated webpage of advice, a new Coronavirus Business Helpline and launched the ‘Pay It Forward’ crowdfunding scheme, all of which aim to help businesses to survive during this challenging time.”

In addition to convening this group, the LEP has launched a Business Resilience Programme for businesses to get 12 hours of fully-funded one-to-one support. The LEP is looking at how to support businesses with the infrastructure to continue business remotely, setting up a free online diagnostic tool to review the current business position and identify tactics for building greater resilience. The partnership is also setting up online masterclasses and resources to support businesses to develop a response in relation to COVID-19.

To find out more about the support available go to https://solentlep.org.uk/coronavirus-support-hub/